DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — An undergraduate student at Duke University admitted to hanging a noose in a tree and has left campus while disciplinary actions are considered, university officials said Thursday.
School spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said at a news conference that the school would not release the name of the student who admitted to hanging the noose, found early Wednesday in a plaza at the heart of the campus. The person is still enrolled at Duke, but faces student conduct and law enforcement investigations.
The student was identified with information provided by other students and will be subject to Duke's student conduct process, Schoenfeld said. An investigation is continuing to find out if others were involved.
School officials believe federal education laws protecting information about students and their grades prevent the school from describing the culprit's gender, race or whether the student had been in trouble in the past, Schoenfeld said.
He said state and federal law enforcement officials are also considering whether the student should face criminal charges.
Officials say the noose was found about 2 a.m. Wednesday in the plaza outside the Bryan Center, the student commons building. Black Student Alliance vice president Henry Washington said he and about 14 other students saw the noose hanging overnight after being alerted via Twitter. On Thursday, he praised the reaction of fellow students and administrators at the school.
"I appreciate that immediate action was taken both by the student community to identify a person and by the faculty to ensure that disciplinary action is taken," he said.
Marshall Ratliff, a senior math major from New Jersey who was walking by the Bryan Center on his way to class shortly after the announcement, said he was happy that the person responsible was identified.
"Duke is making it clear as a student and faculty community that this sort of bias and antagonism is not going to be tolerated on campus," he said.
Sarah Burks, a junior English major from North Carolina, said punishing the culprit is the right move but that it's not going to change a campus culture in which "there's definitely still a lot of separation between different groups."
"There's nothing else they can do when something like this ends up on the front page of the New York Times. They have to find the person," she said of university administrators.
Duke Student Affairs Vice President Larry Moneta said the student responsible for the noose would face judgment under the school's code of conduct, which includes penalties ranging from probation to expulsion. He said it was "too soon to make any comment" about whether the student had expressed remorse.
"This is all part of what the investigation will yield and the opportunity for the student to speak to the basis for the behavior," Moneta said.
At a gathering Wednesday in front of the university's Gothic chapel building, Duke President Richard Brodhead told a crowd of several thousand that their presence was a rejection of what the noose symbolizes in a region where lynchings were once used to terrorize black residents. And he said that while administrators and campus police investigate who displayed the noose and why, it is up to each individual to reject racism.
"One person put up that noose, but this is the multitude of people who got together to say that's not the Duke we want," he told the crowd. "That's not the Duke we're here for, and that's not the Duke we're here to create."
Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.